Spain

Dog-Friendly Spain: Travelling in Spain with a Dog

Dog-friendly Spain

I’ll admit straight up, Spain is unfortunately one of the least dog-friendly countries in Europe. Although many Spanish own and pamper their dogs, they don’t have the same attitude towards dogs that many other European countries do, where dogs are frequently allowed inside restaurants and allowed on public transport as a right.

Travelling in Spain with your dog is more similar to travelling in the USA or Australia (where there’s also a lot of dog owners, but not many places that allow dogs), although it feels like it’s improving and there are some parts of Spain that are more dog-friendly than others.

But this didn’t hold me back from travelling around Spain with my dog, and I’m sure it won’t discourage many other dog owners from taking their dogs with them to Spain, whether for a short trip or a longer stay. After all, Spain is a terrific destination, especially to escape the cold during the cooler months in Europe. It just requires understanding where dogs are and aren’t allowed in Spain. Here’s my tips on travelling in Spain with a dog.

Not sure about the best way to travel from the UK to Spain with your dog? Check out my guide to every option for travelling from the UK to Spain with a dog, no matter if you want to take your car or travel on foot. Plus, don’t forget to protect your dog from Leishmania over the summer.

Dining Out in Spain with a Dog

Dog-friendly travel in Spain

A dog-friendly dining terrace in Frigiliana

In the majority of restaurants in Spain, unfortunately you won’t be able to dine inside with your dog. On our most recent trip, we asked at many places in southern Spain and the Canary Islands, and nearly every place the answer was no.

About the only exception was a small hotel we stayed at in Guadalupe, which considering it allowed dogs to enter the hotel rooms (via the restaurant downstairs), also allowed dogs in the restaurant. Another dog-friendly hotel we stayed at also allowed dogs in the lounge section of its restaurant.

However, there are some regions of Spain that are more dog-friendly than others. While visiting the Basque region of Spain, including Bilbao and San Sebastian, all of the pintxos bars we visited, our favourite way to dine out, allowed dogs. (Read my full post about why I found this to be the most dog-friendly region of Spain.)

I’ve also heard reports from someone who had spent a long time in Barcelona, that many restaurants around Barcelona allow dogs inside. Certainly Schnitzel was allowed inside the famous La Boqueria market when we visited, even charming a butcher into some free scraps!

Dog-friendly restaurants in Spain

Look out for the Perros Bienvenidos sticker on the doors of restaurants

For other parts of Spain, keep a look out for a “Perros Bienvenidos” sticker for restaurants that welcome dogs (picture above). Although you’re sadly more likely to spot no dogs allowed signs. If there isn’t any sticker, it still might be worthwhile asking at the door whether your dog is allowed.

Luckily though, the weather in Spain is better suited for outdoor dining than many other parts of Europe. Even if it’s winter time, it still might be fine if you’re rugged up, or else there might be heaters on the footpath next to the outdoor tables. But during most of the year, outdoor dining is the norm, and I didn’t come across any restaurants that weren’t fine with our dog sitting by our side.

Taking a Dog on Public Transport in Spain

Travelling with a dog in Spain

The reasonably dog-friendly metro in Madrid

While small dogs are generally allowed on public transport in Spain, as long as they are in a carrier, you’ll have a much harder time travelling on public transport with a large dog.

Rules for Dogs on Trains in Spain

For starters, on long-distance trains in Spain, only small pets are allowed. This covers AVE, Larga Distancia (Long Distance), Avant and Media Distancia Convencional (Conventional Mid-Distance) trains.

In this case, small pets are defined as small dogs, cats, ferrets and birds, up to a maximum weight of 10kg. Only one pet is allowed per passenger, and it needs to be in a carrier or cage, with a maximum size of 60 x 35 x 35 cm. Generally there is a charge of 25% of the economy ticket price, although pets travel for free in some classes such as First Class. For more details, check the RENFE pet policy.

When we firstly arrived in Spain after flying from Australia, we travelled from Madrid to Seville via train, with our dog still in his large crate used for the flight. In reality, the size of the pet and the size of the carrier is unlikely to be checked. It wasn’t in our case, and our crate was certainly larger.

I’ve heard reports from some travellers that they’ve travelled with large dogs on trains many times in Spain, without any issues. However, there is a chance that you will get pulled up. I’ve also come across a petition to change the rules for large dogs, so the rules are probably enforced part of the time.

On other trains in Spain, the rules are more lenient. On Cercanías (Commuter) and Feve services, dogs are allowed to travel outside of a cage, wearing just a leash and muzzle. There is no weight restriction. Pets also travel for free.

Rules for Dogs on Metros in Spain

If you’re spending time in Madrid with your dog, luckily the rules for dogs on the metro changed in 2016. Previously only small dogs in carriers were allowed, but all dogs are now allowed on the metro, albeit with the following rules: only one dog per passenger, must be on a lead no longer than 50cm, must be muzzled, must travel in the last train carriage, and not allowed to travel during peak hour (between 7:30-9:30am, 2-4pm and 6-8pm, from Monday to Friday, except during July and August). Small dogs in carriers do not need to follow these rules. In either case, dogs travel for free.

What about other cities in Spain? In Barcelona, the rules for dogs on the metro also changed a few years ago, and are similar to the rules in Madrid. Only the peak hour exclusion times are different: 7-9:30am and 5-7pm.

However, some other cities still only allow small dogs in a carrier on the metro, such as in Valencia. Check the rules of the local transport authority in the city you are visiting, plus for the type of transport you are taking.

Other Transport Options in Spain

One other tip about public transport: it’s probably best to avoid long-distance buses in Spain. The general rule is that dogs are not allowed onboard the buses, but must travel in the luggage compartment underneath the bus. Like most dog owners, I’m not happy to have my dog travel in this fashion.

Due to the rules discussed above, if you’re travelling in Spain with a large dog or you’re travelling with a small dog away from train routes, it’s best to consider hiring a car. Luckily, hire cars are often quite cheap in Spain, although be wary of some small hire car operators. Check out my tips for hiring a car.

Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Spain

Dog-friendly hotels in Spain

Schnitzel getting comfy in his supplied bed at a dog-friendly hotel in Spain

Luckily, Spain is more accommodating when it comes to finding somewhere for your dog to stay, compared to finding dog-friendly restaurants or transport. During our multiple visits to Spain, we’ve stayed in a mix of Airbnbs and hotels, and have never had an issue finding dog-friendly options. We even stayed on a boat at a marina in Tenerife for nearly a week!

Spain still doesn’t allow dogs in quite as many hotels are many other European countries, according to my research. In hotel listings for Madrid, Barcelona and Seville, dogs are allowed by 17-18% hotels (almost the same percentage for each city), putting the Spanish cities towards the bottom of my ranking of European cities. My main recommendation is to not leave your accommodation search to the last minute.

Here is a list of my recommendations for pet-friendly hotels in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Valencia, Alicante, San Sebastián and Tenerife to get you started.

If you’re looking for additional dog-friendly accommodation options in Spain, follow my instructions for finding dog-friendly options on Airbnb, Hotels.com and Booking.com. With hotels, my preference is to book with Hotels.com, as the dog fee is usually displayed, but Booking.com will list more options in rural areas of Spain.

For cheaper 2-3 star hotels, dogs are usually charged around €5 per night or are sometimes free. Two chains in particular that are usually dog-friendly in Spain are Petit Palace (with 4-5 star hotels where dogs stay free) and Campanile (2-3 star hotels that charge €5 per night).

Dog travel Spain

Schnitzel enjoying the sunshine on our boat in Tenerife

One extra warning: book your accommodation well in advance in Barcelona, unless you’re prepared to spend up big. There’s not many cheaper options available in Barcelona, including Airbnbs, which are virtually banned, due to all Airbnbs requiring a license and no new licenses being granted. Add to the mix requiring something that is dog-friendly, and you’ll find not many accommodation options available to book and prices that are higher than elsewhere in Spain.

Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Spain

Dog-friendly sightseeing in Spain

Exploring the white village of Frigiliana

While travelling around Spain, you’ll find plenty of dog-friendly sightseeing options for you and your pup. There’s countless historic city centres to wander around, from Seville to Toledo to Segovia. In Barcelona and Valencia, explore the vibrant street art scenes, along with your dog.

Dog travel Spain

Schnitzel taking in the view of Teide on Tenerife

And don’t miss out on the beautiful national parks, including in the Pyrenees and Teide National Park on Tenerife. The majority of national parks in Spain allow dogs, although generally on a leash, although Doñana National Park near Seville, best known as a refuge to migratory birds, naturally prohibits dogs.

For my full list of sightseeing recommendations in Spain for you and your dog, see my list of dog-friendly things to do in Spain.

Dog-Friendly Beaches in Spain

Dog-friendly beaches in Spain

Enjoying the beach in San Sebastien outside of the summer season

I couldn’t talk about visiting Spain and dogs, and not mention beaches. Or more specifically, are dogs allowed on beaches in Spain?

First up, you’re likely to have more success at finding dog-friendly beaches in Spain if you visit outside of summer. For example, dogs are allowed on beaches in Barcelona outside of the summer season, which is officially from the 1st June to the last Sunday in September, plus weekends either side. Visiting Barcelona with your dog in May? Visit any beach you want. Heading there in July? Your options are more limited.

This is probably the case for most of the country. For example, I visited San Sebastien during April and found plenty of dogs playing on the main beach, with no signs prohibiting dogs. But over the summer, dogs are likely to be prohibited.

If you are visiting Spain over the summer and want to visit the beach with your dog, there are some options, but they are limited and be prepared to travel a fair distance. It’s best to research this before booking accommodation.

Luckily, Redcanina.es lists all the dog-friendly beaches in Spain where dogs are allowed year round, even if for limited hours in the Spain. (Unfortunately, the website is only in Spanish.) Here’s their map of every dog-friendly beach:

Head to the main website to view further details on each of these beaches.

Inspired? Pin this to your Pinterest board!

Spain Dog-Friendly Travel

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Tracey Tambaros
    May 28, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    Hi,
    We are currently planning a trip to Spain at the end of the year for the whole of January. We have a caravan so do not need accomodation and will get the ferry from hull to Zeebruger. Can anyone give us advice on taking our dog he is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and we have read that they are on the dangerous dog list in Spain so need to be registered 3 months before. How do we go about this and do we need anything in France also?T

    • Reply
      Shandos
      May 30, 2019 at 8:58 am

      Hi Tracey! Unfortunately, I don’t have any personal experience with this, but I know it’s a common concern for travellers. The best information I’ve come across is on the Caravan Club website: https://www.caravanclub.co.uk/overseas-holidays/useful-information/travelling-with-pets/ and Petolog: https://petolog.com/articles/banned-dogs.html. Some people have also shared their personal stories here: https://www.motorhomefun.co.uk/forum/threads/travelling-in-france-spain-with-a-staffordshire-bull-terrier.174005/

      The Caravan Club website states that your dog only needs to be registered within 3 months of arriving in Spain, not 3 months before. I think this makes more sense. So if you were going to be staying long-term in Spain you would need to register, but not for a month-long visit.

      For France, Staffordshire Bull Terrier isn’t specifically listed, but Staffordshire Terrier is. I’m not sure whether you have pedigree papers – if you do, take them. Then there is the rule that they need to be on a leash with a muzzle.

      I would keep your dog leashed and wearing a muzzle, or carry a muzzle in case you are requested to use one. Avoid public transport (often there are rules banning dangerous breeds from public transport) and stay clear of playgrounds. It seems that there are mixed reactions to Staffies, with varying levels of enforcement, with it partially depending on how the dog looks. If your dog does look quite fierce, you might have more issues.

  • Reply
    Anne Thomas
    August 16, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    Hi,

    Thanks for all of the useful info.

    We are spending next February, March and April in southern Spain, to escape the Montreal winter. We were initially planning to bring our seven year old pug/Boston mix Ellie with us. However she is just a little too big to bring on board with us so we would have to put her in the hold. I saw you mention flying your dog from Australia in a large crate so assume you put her in the hold. Is that correct? I’m extremely nervous to do this as I think she would be very stressed and anxious. What was your experience? We are seriously considering leaving her here with my son for the three months as Im not comfortable with putting her in the hold of the plane. We will miss her as she will us, but we think it might be the best choice for her.

    • Reply
      Shandos
      August 18, 2019 at 9:28 am

      Hi Anne – Yes, unfortunately we had to fly with our small dog in the hold to and from Australia. When flying to and from Australia, plus within the country, dogs are not allowed in the cabin, only in the hold. Probably due to this being the only option, us Australians are a bit more resigned to flying with our dogs in the hold, compared to Europeans and Americans. (Emotional support dogs are also not allowed in the cabin here.)

      We actually experienced no issues with this. Luckily our dog has been crate trained from an early age, so he was quite comfortable in his crate and happily went inside it and slept inside it. This makes a big difference to your dog’s comfort – if they aren’t comfortable with the crate in your home, I would be reluctant to fly them in it for a holiday. You also know what your dog is like around other people (whether friendly or nervous) and strange noises, and whether they are likely to cope.

      Speaking to others who have made the long flight between Australia and Europe with their pets (often relocating permanently), most of us are quite nervous, but our dogs usually seem less stressed and are fine after the flight! However, make sure you’re happy with the arrangements of the airline, and make sure they have policies around temperatures and keep the animal hold temperature and pressure controlled. Flying from Montreal, check what their policy is about cold temperatures.

      One final tip – if your pet is only slightly over the usual 8kg limit, there are some airlines with a higher weight limit. I believe Alitalia have a 10kg limit, although you would need to fly indirectly. Some of the American airlines just have a size rather than weight limit, but many of them don’t accept pets in the cabin for cross-Atlantic flights at the moment.

      Hope this helps you make a decision!

  • Reply
    Sara
    January 19, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Hi, thank you for your detailed information on flying with our dogs. We are planning a trip from Canada to Spain next summer and wonder if you could provide some information from your experience. Much appreciated in advance. Cheers.

    • Reply
      Shandos
      January 20, 2020 at 3:36 pm

      Sara – Are there any specific questions you have? I haven’t travelled in between Canada and Europe, but I have covered flying to Europe from the USA here: https://www.travelnuity.com/flying-to-europe-with-a-dog/. I’ve come across lots of recommendations for Air Canada, also.

  • Reply
    Mary Villesvik
    February 4, 2020 at 10:53 pm

    Hi, thanks for this article. 1 question…if i travel from Malaga to Madrid by a speed train, does my cat ..in addition to required carrier…need documentation/microchip when train traveling domestically?

    • Reply
      Shandos
      February 5, 2020 at 4:29 pm

      Renfe specifies that pets needs to travel with their documentation. There is no mention made of a microchip though.

  • Reply
    Rick
    April 6, 2020 at 3:21 am

    Hi, beautiful little Dachshund. As a volunteer at dog’s house’s here in Spain. 4 years now, many different ones, All in malaga area. Some homes the dogs are kept on chains? 24/7, unless out on a walk, Is that friendly? My mums dog, a dachshund too, ex hunting dog. Was saved from a DOG KILLING STATION? The level of care for animals is stupid, to put it lightly

    • Reply
      Shandos
      April 6, 2020 at 1:21 pm

      Rick, that’s terrible to hear. I’m glad that you’re helping improve the situation.

  • Reply
    helen heil
    July 6, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    Torrevieja is the UNFRIENDLIEST dog town are in the whole of Spain!!!! Do not come here with your wallet and your DOG!!!!b The Mayor has picked out the stoniest, smallest, most undog friendly inlet in the whole of the area for dogs!!!! To cap it all he has arranged for both the Guardia and the Local Police to patrol regularly, and harrass all dog owner who dare to think their dog is entitled to a cool dip in the ocean!!! Worse still, they are actually FINED!!!! I feel like a criminal whose only crime is to own and love a dog! Do the Police have no REAL CRIMINALS they can persue, as indeed they are trained to! Last week 3 lots of illegal immigrants were able to arrive on our shores, whilst the Police were no doubt dealing with errant pensioners and their pesky dogs!!!!!

    • Reply
      Shandos
      July 8, 2020 at 7:20 am

      Helen – That’s horrible to hear. It would be wonderful if the Spanish authorities could be more dog-friendly, I often hear complaints about Spain. We didn’t experience this personally, as my dog doesn’t like swimming and we visited early in the spring.

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